A group of men in France have declared “No to Gay Marriage” by taking their shirts off in the streets. as a demonstration of how the government’s push for marriage equality is threatening their freedom.

In a pastiche of Femen, the feminist protest group who have staged topless demonstrations for equality in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, and in Notre Dame Cathedral, Hommen staged protests against equal marriage in the streets of Saint-Lazare.

The group of around 30 men demonstrated by removing their shirts and chanting, displaying words and slogans on their chest such as “liberty”, “democracy”, and “free speech”.

Unlike Femen, the men wore blank masks to hide their identities. They were then gagged one by one by another protester in a President Francois Hollande mask.

Earlier today President Hollande condemned displays of homophobic violence in France, stating “Homophobic acts, violent acts have been committed. The right to protest is recognised by our constitution and accepted by the French. But no protest must degenerate.”

Tensions grew after it emerged last week that the National Assembly’s hearing of the marriage equality bill, which last week earned the approval of the Senate, would be brought forward to Wednesday this week. The final vote on the bill was due to take place in May, but is now scheduled for 23 April.

Frigide Barjot, the figurehead of anti-marriage equality group Manif pour Tous, said it was a sign the French President Francois Hollande “wants blood”, and promised “He will get it”.